I passed my PMP exam on Wednesday 05.27. Below are my Lessons Learned and other details.
My core preparations really started the Friday 05.22 with approx 6 – 8 hours each day including 4 hours of dedicated testing time. The core studies were:
Core Study Plan –
1. Read PMBOK
2. Read Rita
3. Created my hybrid notes from Rita and PMBOK combined; this consisted of a 1 double-sided page per chapter; created them 2 nights before the exam and was the only thing I reviewed the day of the exam
4. Read PMBOK glossary
5. Practiced Page 70 of PMBOK extensively and mapped to the Rita Process Game
Practice Tests –
Took tests everyday for the last 4 days at the same time my test was scheduled. This helped me get into the routine of sitting through the 4 hours on the test day; below are the tests and scores with elapsed time –
1. PMBOK Questions in 3 hours scoring 157/200 or 78.5%
2. Rita Questions in 2 hours 19 mins scoring 158/200 or 79%
3. VLC Questions in 55 mins scoring 89/114 or 78%
4. Misc. Questions from Crosswind, Testking and other sources approx 150 randomly
5. Head First Questions in 2 hours 29 mins scoring 149/200 or 74.5%
6. Oliver Lehman Questions in 1 hour 43 mins scoring 46/75 or 61.3%
7. Pmstudy.com Questions in 2 hours 46 mins scoring 109/175 – 62.29%
So you see, the Law of Diminishing Returns actually works .. the more number of tests I gave, the slower I got and progressively scored lower :); so knew it was time; btw however trivial this Law may appear, don’t ignore this topic for the exam
PMP Exam –
During the test, I finished the 200 questions in 2 hours and 58 mintues with 1 break of 5 mins after the first two hours. Spent the next 45 mins to review the 34 marked for review qts. with the balance of the time did random sampling of questions to review them .. figured having invested so many days studying, 15 more minutes will not kill me and this did help. While reviewing the marked questions, I covered the original answers with my hand and attempted to take them again, if the answers matched, moved on immediately without giving it a second thought. In cases where I answered differently the second time around, analyzed it further.
My Analysis and Lessons Learned –
• The very first question was whacked; have not seen in PMBOK or Rita, talk about confidence builder; followed by the next 5 or six which were very tough, wordy and cost calculations related. It did impact me from a confidence point of view and that effect stayed till then next 50 questions or so. I was getting ready not to pass, but then I
changed my strategy and started marking them for review and moving on. Later when the feel-good factor set it, was able to re-visit those questions more rationally
• The questions were wordy, a good portion of them but not all; comparable to Rita questions in terms of wordiness and length. However I personally found questions from HeadFirst wordier and that was a good test to learn how to read and re-read and grasp the gist of the questions. So highly recommend, try the HeadFirst test to experience
the ultra long questions
• Rita book is good, it helps in understanding the concept. However found it to have a tinge of dry humour/sarcasm inbuilt, does not help when you are preparing
• Also found HeadFirst to be very simple and light (did not read it indepth but only perused it and for the answers to the questions I got wrong during the practice test); was able to capture the fundamentals immediately. HeadFirst is light read and fun to go through; no sarcasm either
• Several question banks focus a great deal on negative reverse questions such as the one with “Except”, “which does not”; not a single question was presented that way in the exam.
• Focus on PMBOK; though it is dry and boring, it is very very important to cover the minute details which are easy to get missed in Rita (not sure about the other books)
• Spend time on learning the details of each concept, ITTO. For eg. Matrix organization, there is so much more than what Rita book has to offer .. was surprised to see a question pertaining to matrix which took me several re-reads to figure it out. You’d think you know everything there is to a Matrix org.
• Focus on the PMBOK glossary, a good refresher before the exam
• ITTO – I refused to memorize these. 2 hours prior to the exam, I scratched notes for myself using a few ITTO and that proved very helpful. There were a great deal of questions on ITTO; some asked about the concepts, some phases, 1 or 2 were direct, but overall you
needed to know what they mean rather than just the name of the ITTO. Updates (ITTO), had approx 5 questions which were related to Updates ITTO. In my preps, I would overlook them, till the last day and that helped.
• For a good quality score, focus on Quality. I was surprised to see the number of the Quality questions on the exam. Though I had expected a good portion of them, they totally outnumbered my expectations
• Cost Calculations – These were very complex questions and none like any that were part of the practice exams. After spending approx 5 mins on each, I was forced to mark them for review and move on; reattempted them during the review session and was able to think more clearly. Not straight forward at all. These made the fence question in Rita’s book look elementary.
• You will be risking it if you take Risk Chapter lightly
• Remember – Customer Focus and Satisfaction is essential to any project, with that mindset, a few questions will be easy to score
• Focus on a set material and question banks. There are tons of resources available; create your checklist and stick to it. I was tempted and distracted with the wide array of alternate options and made a conscious effort not to indulge in extra materials till I have
finished the ones at hand. Truth is you, if you have a good checklist, you will not have time to complete it all. So don’t waste your time hunting for notes, questions, and books. Create a Checklist and stick to it. Ironically Checklist is a Quality output ?
What would I do differently –
• Increased focus on PMBOK
• Include HeadFirst in my study plan
• Relate PMBOK Page 70 and Rita’s Process game and map them up earlier in the process of my studies
• Invest time in studying in ITTO; not just what they are but with descriptions and how they fit into the process and inter-relate to other areas
• Questions not sure for, mark for review and move on. Come back later to revisit
• Give myself a few more days headup time to create my own notes to study from
• I would not cram in info and study till the very end prior to the exam. Give myself apporx. 3 hours (if not more) prior to the exam to clear the mind. Well that was the plan, but it did not work out that way
• Scope out the testing center with parking and other locale traffic in advance
I hope this helps atleast a fraction with your preparations.
All the best.
Now that I have passed the exam, adding those three letters to my signature. 🙂
(Was posted by the author as comments in one of PMHUB LLs. PMHUB admin missed this and is now published as LL). Please send your LL to firstname.lastname@example.org, do not post as comments